The Narrow Road to the Deep North

The Narrow Road to the Deep North

by Richard Flanagan
General Fiction
Vintage
Paperback, 416 pages
$15.95

One of the truly monstrous episodes of WWII was the construction of the Thai-Burma Railway – the so-called “Death Railway” or just “The Line” – by inmates of a Japanese prison camp and Asian slave laborers. The workers were beaten, often to death, and were riddled with malaria, cholera, beriberi, ulcers, and fever. This provides the setting for an exquisitely lyrical novel of savagery, survival, and love. The characters, especially the camp surgeon Dorrigo Evans and the camp’s senior officer Major Nakamura, are drawn with Haiku-like precision. In fact, the novel’s title is taken from the work of the same name by the great Haiku poet Basho. This book took the Man Booker Prize for 2014. Excellent!